Update: Our sources have told us that Apple did not in fact relaunch the iPhone 4 in February – it was simply a natural stock out before a fresh production run. There are also still iPhone 4 units in channels in India, our sources say, though the remaining inventory likely won’t be refreshed again before the next device cycle.
Apple has decided to stop selling the iPhone 4 in India, the Times of India reports today. Apple’s retail channel partners in the country have reported that stock of the device has stopped coming in, and that Apple is saying it won’t be taking new orders for the iPhone 4 going forward. The company had only just started selling the iPhone 4 again, giving it a low-cost option in the extremely price sensitive Indian market.
The iPhone 4 was Apple’s only device being sold in India for under RS 20,000 (around $333). It was Apple’s lowest cost device, but it also meant that the company was likely seeing relatively low average selling price (ASP) on these devices, which was reflected in its recent quarterly earnings, and the Times suggests that Apple’s decision to discontinue sales is engineered to raise that value going forward. Cupertino has also recently launched a buyback program to defray the cost of the iPhone 4S, which has helped that newer hardware become the top-selling Apple handset in India, according to one of the country’s top gadget retailers.
It’s also advantageous for Apple to ditch the iPhone 4 because of software support. The smartphone is now four years old, and while it does technically support iOS 7, it doesn’t offer a number of the new operating system’s features, like turn-by-turn navigation, panorama mode, AirPlay mirroring or Siri to name just a few. Users also have complained about performance on the iPhone 4 with Apple’s latest OS update, so getting it out of the new device sales chain has advantages in terms of improving overall customer satisfaction, too.
Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested that the iPhone 4 had relatively little effect on their ASP last quarter during the earnings conference call, but dropping it can only help that metric. The company still has a lot of room to grow in terms of smartphone market penetration in India, however, and Cook reported iPhones sales in the country were up 55 percent over the past year, so it should continue to offer pricing advantages in this market, given its growing importance to Apple’s balance sheet.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment, and will update if we hear more.